Sleepfoundation.org is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here

author

Written by

Daniel Noyed

Sleepfoundation.org is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here

Also known as viscoelastic foam, memory foam contours in response to heat and pressure. The material provides a supportive, pressure-relieving cradle that makes it ideal for use in pillows.

Memory foam pillows can be solid or shredded, and many of the best pillows today feature cooling techniques to battle the heat retention that was typical of traditional memory foam. Pillows made of this moldable and highly versatile material are widely available in all budgets.

Whether you suffer from neck pain or whether you’re simply looking for a pillow that will support your spine and help you get a better night’s sleep, look no further. We’ve rounded up some of our top picks and compiled a comprehensive guide on how to choose the best memory foam pillow.

The Best Memory Foam Pillows

Product Details

TEMPUR-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow

TEMPUR-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow
Fill:
TEMPUR memory foam with TEMPUR-Beeze Gel coating
Firmness:
Medium (5)
TEMPUR-Cloud Breeze Dual Cooling Pillow
Highlights:

The Tempur-CLOUD Dual Breeze pillow provides a plush cradle for the head and staves off heat build-up with cooling gel panels on either side.

Who it's best for:
  • People who appreciate a pillow that’s cool on both sides
  • Side sleepers
  • Fans of close-conforming memory foam

Tempur-Pedic was the first company to use memory foam in its mattresses and continues to be one of the biggest names in the industry. The TEMPUR-Cloud Dual Breeze one-piece memory foam pillow boasts the supreme pressure relief that is the company’s hallmark. However, this pillow takes it up a notch with gel layers on either side of the pillow to keep it cool. A removable and washable 100% cotton knit cover provides a soft and breathable surface.

The pillow has a 6.4-inch loft, which sinks down a little as the memory foam slowly compresses under the head. Due to this high loft and medium feel, the Tempur-Cloud succeeds in providing a comfortable surface for side sleepers. The foam contours to fit the head and neck, maintaining the natural curvature of the spine while reducing pressure on the ears.

The Dual Breeze pillow is available in queen and king sizes. Tempurpedic offers free shipping but does not accept returns. Tempur-Pedic has established a reputation for high-quality memory foam sleep products and the Dual Breeze pillow should perform well for longer than the average memory foam pillow. To top it off, the company backs this pillow with a 5-year warranty.

Coop Home Goods Eden

Coop Home Goods Eden
Fill:
Cross-cut gel-infused memory foam and microfiber
Firmness:
Medium Soft
Coop Home Goods Eden
Highlights:

The Coop Home Goods Eden Pillow is a customizable memory foam pillow that keeps cool with shredded, gel-infused memory foam and comes with a 100-night sleep trial.

Who it's best for:
  • Those who sleep hot
  • Stomach, back, and side sleepers
  • People with changing loft preferences

Coop Home Goods specializes in designing customizable pillows to suit a variety of needs. The Eden Pillow is made with a blend of microfiber and shredded memory foam. This shredded fill promotes airflow, and the memory foam has gel infusions designed to draw away body heat for a cooler night’s sleep.

The Eden Pillow has a medium soft feel that is best suited to back sleepers and stomach sleepers, although it comes with an additional half-pound of fill for side sleepers or anyone who prefers a higher loft or firmer feel. A stretchy polyester liner and gusset allow users to adjust the shape according to preferred sleep position. Since it’s made with shredded foam, this is also a highly huggable pillow.

The Eden features a soft outer cover made of a polyester and bamboo viscose rayon blend. This outer cover is removable and machine-washable. Once a year, the inner pillow can also be machine-washed on cold water in the gentle cycle.

The Eden pillow is available in standard, queen, and king sizes. It’s made in the USA, ships free, and comes with a 100-night sleep trial and 5-year warranty. Coop Home Goods also states that the pillow is cruelty-free and hypoallergenic, and holds certifications from CertiPUR-US as well as Greenguard Gold that guarantee it to be low in harmful chemicals.

Casper Foam Pillow

Casper Foam Pillow
Fill:
77% Polyfoam 23% Memory Foam
Firmness:
Medium
Casper Foam Pillow
Highlights:

Three layers of aerated foams in the Casper Memory Foam Pillow provide a supportive and breathable sleep surface at an attractive price-point.

Who it's best for:
  • Those who sleep mostly on their back
  • People who want a one-piece memory foam pillow without the heat build-up
  • Shoppers who want a few months to try it out before committing

The Casper Memory Foam pillow features a sophisticated design made with three layers of polyfoam and memory foam. A denser foam in the middle provides a supportive cradle for the head and neck, while the conforming outer layers add cushioning with a slow response to pressure. This gives the pillow a medium soft feel overall, without compromising on support. Overall, the pillow’s medium soft feel and average loft work best for back sleepers and some side sleepers.

Instead of relying on gel infusions, the Casper Memory Foam Pillow boosts airflow by perforating all three layers of foam and cutting air channels into the outside layers.

The pillow has a breathable jersey knit cover made of a polyester-spandex blend, with a 2-inch gusset. The cover is removable and machine-washable.

Unlike many of its competitors, Casper extends its 100-night sleep trial to its bedding and pillows, not just its mattresses. The pillow ships free to the continental U.S. and to some Canadian provinces. After the sleep trial, the pillow is backed by a 1-year limited warranty. The pillow is available in standard and king sizes.

Layla Memory Foam Pillow

Layla Memory Foam Pillow
Fill:
Shredded Memory Foam
Firmness:
Medium Firm
Layla Memory Foam Pillow
Highlights:

The Layla Memory Foam Pillow contains plush, shredded fill that can be added or removed to adjust the loft and feel.

Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers who prefer adjustable pillows
  • People with neck and shoulder pain
  • Those who normally find memory foam pillows too warm

The Layla Memory Foam Pillow is an ideal choice for sleepers whose loft preferences vary from night to night. The pillow’s shredded memory foam fill is housed in a liner inside the cover. To change the loft and overall feel of the pillow, simply unzip the liner and add or remove the foam. Owners can contact Layla about buying more foam in bulk if they need to replenish their supply.

The memory foam conforms closely for targeted pain and pressure relief around the neck and shoulders. The pillow is also well-suited to hot sleepers. Air circulates more freely through the pillow core thanks to the shredded fill, and the foam absorbs less body heat compared to solid memory foam. Additionally, the pillow is easy to clean. The outer cover and inner liner with foam can be washed and dried in your household machines. Flattening may occur with use, so tumble drying the pillow can expand it back to its full shape. Queen and king sizes are available.

Layla offers free shipping to all customers in the contiguous U.S. The pillow is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a five-year warranty, both of which are longer than average.

Eli & Elm PCM Memory Foam Cooling Pillow

Eli & Elm PCM Memory Foam Cooling Pillow
Fill:
Solid Memory Foam
Firmness:
Medium
Eli & Elm PCM Memory Foam Cooling Pillow
Highlights:

The Eli & Elm PCM Memory Foam Cooling Pillow resists heat buildup quite well thanks to a cover made of phase-change material.

Who it's best for:
  • Hot sleepers
  • People who prefer the contouring feel of memory foam
  • Pillow shoppers looking for models with medium loft

Many pillows with foam fill absorb and trap body heat, causing them to feel excessively warm, but the PCM Memory Foam Cooling Pillow from Eli & Elm is an exception. This is thanks to a cover composed of phase-change material, an innovative fabric engineered to maintain a consistently cool temperature regardless of how warm the sleeper feels. As a result, the pillow’s cover is cool to the touch. Those who normally feel uncomfortable on foam pillows should find this model much cooler by comparison.

The pillow contains a single piece of memory foam that is infused with copper, which has antimicrobial properties to stave off mold, mildew, and other allergens. Customers can choose between two loft options, 4 or 5 inches. Both lofts have a medium feel, and the memory foam conforms very closely to the head and neck. Eli & Elm also offers queen and king sizes for the pillow.

The company provides free delivery to all customers in the contiguous U.S., and shipping rates are reasonable for those in Alaska, Hawaii, and Canada. The pillow is backed by a 45-night sleep trial, and Eli & Elm will issue a full refund for all returns.

Saatva Memory Foam Pillow

Saatva Memory Foam Pillow
Fill:
Shredded Gel Memory Foam
Firmness:
Medium
Saatva Memory Foam Pillow
Highlights:

The adjustable Saatva Memory Foam Pillow provides close, even contouring to the head and neck thanks to its chambered design.

Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers who prefer adjustable pillows
  • Those with neck and shoulder pain
  • Hot sleepers

The Saatva Memory Foam Pillow is another great option for sleepers whose loft preferences change from night to night. It features a removable inner pillow made of graphite-infused memory foam, along with a shredded memory foam core. Simply remove the inner pillow to adjust the thickness and feel of the pillow.

The cover is composed of breathable organic cotton quilted with phase-change material, which helps the pillow maintain a cool temperature. As a result, this pillow is suitable for anyone who normally finds memory foam too hot. Air also circulates freely through the shredded core, and this foam is infused with gel to draw heat away from your body. The dual memory foam layers also ensure even conforming and relief for any aches and pains in your neck or shoulders.

The cover can be machine washed and dried, but spot cleaning is recommended for the inner memory foam pillow. Saatva offers free ground shipping to all customers in the contiguous U.S. The pillow can be returned within 45 days of delivery, even if it has been used or laundered. It is also backed by a one-year warranty against material defects.

Idle Sleep Gel Memory Foam Pillow

Idle Sleep Gel Memory Foam Pillow
Fill:
Shredded Memory Foam
Firmness:
Medium Soft
Idle Sleep Gel Memory Foam Pillow
Highlights:

The Idle Gel Memory Foam Pillow is constructed from a single piece of ventilated foam that feels softer in the middle and firm around the edges.

Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers looking for zoned head and neck support
  • Hot sleepers
  • People with sensitive skin

The Idle Gel Memory Foam Pillow offers exceptional temperature regulation. The pillow is constructed from a single piece of memory foam that is ventilated with small holes to promote air circulation. The holes are wider in the middle to create a soft, cradling surface for your head while smaller holes along the perimeter make the foam feel firmer and more supportive for your neck. This zoned design makes the pillow suitable for side and back sleepers, as well as anyone who frequently experiences neck and shoulder pain.

The foam is infused with cooling gel to draw heat away from your body. The pillow’s cover, made of rayon derived from bamboo in a velour knit, is also quite breathable, and the smooth fabric is optimal for people with sensitive skin. While the memory foam should only be spot cleaned, you can wash and dry the cover in any household machine. Queen and king sizes are available.

Idle Sleep provides free ground shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S. Please note that all orders are final and the pillow cannot be returned at any point.

How to Choose a Memory Foam Pillow

Memory foam is a type of polyurethane foam that’s been treated with chemicals to give it special properties. It’s also known as viscoelastic foam, a moniker that accurately describes the way the material softens and contours in response to heat and pressure, gradually regaining its shape once heat and pressure are lifted.

Memory foam is popular in pillows because it molds to the head and neck, providing a supportive surface that can be shaped to the user’s liking. This close-conforming material is unrivaled in its ability to alleviate pressure points.

In this section, we’ll delve deeper into the pros and cons of memory foam and cover some of the most important aspects to look for when purchasing a memory foam pillow.

What to Consider When Purchasing a Memory Foam Pillow

The market is flooded with manufacturers who tinker with their memory foam to give it different qualities, such as using gel infusions to achieve better temperature neutrality. Some proprietary foams do succeed in their aims, but it can be very difficult to tell before trying the pillow out for yourself.

Before you shop for a memory foam pillow, it’s important to understand the basics behind how they are constructed and what kind of options exist. Focusing on the following factors can help you see past the marketing hype to choose the best memory foam pillow for you.

Memory foam pillows come in two types: one-piece and shredded.

  • One-Piece: One-piece memory foam pillows are made of a single solid block of memory foam. This can either be in the shape of a traditional pillow, or in a tailored shape that mimics the curves of the head and neck. One-piece memory foam pillows conform very closely and have a slower response to pressure. They tend to go back to their original shape when you take your head off the pillow.
  • Shredded: Shredded memory foam pillows can either contain 100 percent memory foam or be blended with other materials such as latex or fiberfill. The advantage of using shredded memory foam is that users can add or remove filling to adjust the pillow loft to their liking, as well as customize the shape of the pillow to a certain extent. Shredded memory foam generally allows more room for airflow compared to a one-piece memory foam pillow.

Here are some other factors to consider when buying your pillow:

  • Sleeping Position: Your sleeping position is one of the main things that will dictate what type of pillow you should choose. One-piece memory foam pillows tend to be higher and better-suited to side sleepers, while stomach sleepers often prefer shredded memory foam pillows with most of the loft taken out.
  • Price: Memory foam pillows have an average price-point, with shredded memory foam pillows running at a slightly higher price-point than one-piece pillows. Some companies offer free pillows along with a mattress purchase, which can be a good option if the pillow matches your needs.
  • Pressure Relief: Memory foam offers exceptional pressure relief, and both one-piece and shredded memory foam pillows conform closely to prevent pressure build-up in the head and neck. Because of its conforming abilities, memory foam is often used in specialized orthopedic pillows to help people with neck pain or other problems.
  • Quality Materials: Memory foam eventually loses its ability to bounce back to its original shape, which in turn affects its pressure-relieving capabilities. A pillow with higher-quality foam will last longer than an inferior one – a difference that is often reflected in the price.
  • Firmness Level: The ideal firmness level for your pillow depends on your sleep position, body type, and personal preference. Most memory foam pillows are medium soft to medium. One-piece memory foam pillows offer just one firmness level, but many shredded memory foam pillows allow users to customize the firmness level somewhat by adding or removing the filling.
  • Loft: A pillow with the right loft, or height, will help keep your head and back aligned and prevent neck pain. One-piece memory foam pillows usually have a medium to high loft, while shredded memory foam pillows can have the loft adjusted to virtually any height. While not as customizable as shredded memory foam pillows, some solid-foam pillows have removable inserts for users to choose between two or more settings.
  • Cooling Properties: Heat build-up in your pillow can make you uncomfortably warm and disrupt your sleep. Memory foam is notorious for heat retention, although today’s manufacturers use many techniques to get around this. Of course, shredded memory foam naturally allows more room for airflow, so all other things being equal, a shredded pillow will sleep cooler than a one-piece pillow.

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Memory Foam Pillow?

Memory foam has unsurpassed contouring abilities that make it one of the best pillow materials for pressure relief and support. However, memory foam has some drawbacks as well, the most notable of which is its tendency to trap heat. The material also has a slow response to pressure that some people like, but that can be restrictive when changing positions.

Pros Cons
  • Close-conforming pressure relief: Memory foam softens in response to heat and pressure, molding itself to fit the shape of your body and prevent pressure build-up.
  • Support: Because memory foam remains fairly firm in the areas that are not immediately adjacent to the head and neck, the material forms a supportive cradle that promotes healthy spinal alignment and reduces neck pain and headaches.
  • Price: While not the cheapest pillows out there, memory foam pillows offer a luxurious feel at a much lower price than natural or organic products.
  • Noise: Memory foam absorbs movement and produces little to no noise, minimizing sleep disruptions to you and your partner.
  • Customizability: The viscous nature of memory foam means manufacturers can mold it into virtually any shape, which is why it’s commonly used in orthopedic pillows.
  • Availability: Memory foam pillows are a popular product that you’re sure to find virtually anywhere pillows are sold.
  • Hypoallergenic: Memory foam mattresses are generally resistant to dust mites and bacteria, making them a good choice for allergy sufferers as long as you’re not allergic to the foam itself.
  • Sleeps hot: Memory foam is notorious for trapping heat, leading many sleepers to find it uncomfortably warm.
  • Slow response to pressure: Memory foam is not very responsive, which may lead some people to feel “stuck” when trying to shift sleeping positions.
  • Durability: Memory foam pillows usually last three years at most, since the material eventually loses its ability to regain its shape.
  • Off-gassing: Like all synthetic foams, memory foam releases some initial “off-gassing” odors when it is first unpacked.

One-Piece vs. Shredded Memory Foam Pillows

Here are some of the major ways in which one-piece and shredded memory foam pillows differ:

  • Customization: Both one-piece and shredded memory foam pillows can be customized to a certain extent. Shredded memory foam pillows frequently have a zipper that allows users to open the pillow and add or remove filling to adjust the loft. It’s a good idea to hang on to the filling in case you ever want to make the pillow higher. Although not customizable to the same extent as shredded memory foam pillows, one-piece pillows sometimes have removable inserts that give users several choices of loft.
  • Moldability: Shredded memory foam pillows have a significant advantage over one-piece pillows in that they can be molded to virtually any shape. This is highly convenient for people who like to use their pillow in different positions.
  • Weight: Memory foam pillows weigh more than fiberfill or down equivalents, with many weighing 5 pounds or more. By design, shredded memory foam weighs less than the equivalent volume in solid foam.
  • Heat Retention: Shredded memory foam pillows generally maintain a more neutral temperature, since the design leaves room for airflow between the pieces. That said, some one-piece memory foam pillows feature ventilation or cut-out channels that allow air to flow freely and carry heat away.
  • Fluffing: One-piece memory foam pillows are low-maintenance and don’t need to be fluffed. Shredded memory foam pillows can become lumpy if not regularly fluffed, but the advantage of shredded pillows is that many of them can be machine-washed.
  • Support: One-piece memory foam pillows are usually firmer and keep their shape better than shredded memory foam pillows, which may need to be readjusted every time you switch positions.

Who is Best Suited to a Memory Foam Pillow?

Memory foam pillows are generally best suited to side sleepers, back sleepers, and anyone who suffers from neck pain or who prefers a pillow with a higher loft. While your perfect pillow will partly depend on your body type and personal preference, here are some general considerations for choosing a memory foam pillow according to sleep position and other factors.

  • Sleepers with Neck Pain: Many sleepers successfully reduce neck pain with a cervical memory foam pillow. Thanks to the moldability of memory foam, these pillows are able to cradle the natural curves of the neck and head to provide the needed support.
  • Side Sleepers: Side sleepers need a higher, firmer pillow that supports the head and eases pressure on the shoulders. Memory foam pillows fit the bill, especially firmer one-piece memory foam pillows, and can often be further customized according to individual preferences.
  • Back Sleepers: Back sleepers do best with a moderately lofty pillow that keeps the spine at a natural angle. The ability of memory foam to compress in response to pressure makes it a perfect candidate for many back sleepers, as it allows the sleeper’s head to sink in just far enough to be at a comfortable height with respect to the body.
  • Sleepers Who Enjoy High Loft: Most memory foam pillows are quite high, and shredded memory foam pillows can be stuffed to the brim to make them even higher. This makes them ideal for people who like a pillow with a high loft.

Who is not suited:

  • Hot Sleepers: Memory foam is known for trapping heat, so it’s not the best choice for those who naturally run warm or who live in hot climates. If you sleep hot but you like the feel of memory foam, there is the option of using a shredded memory foam pillow or a one-piece pillow with ventilation or cut-out air channels. These techniques help improve airflow and reduce heat retention. Some pillows have cooling elements and draw heat away from the sleeper using gel, graphite, or copper infusions, or keep a cool-to-the-touch surface with phase-change material.
  • Stomach Sleepers: Stomach sleepers usually require a flatter pillow to keep the neck aligned with the spine, so although some shredded memory foam pillows are suitable, this isn’t generally the best material. That said, stomach sleepers use their pillows in different ways, so the ideal loft will change from person to person. Some stomach sleepers may be satisfied with the adjustability of a shredded memory foam pillow that allows them to form a pillow with a lower loft.

Which Memory Foam Pillow Sizes Are Available?

Memory foam pillows typically come in the following sizes, although the exact dimensions may vary by manufacturer:

  • Standard (20” x 26”): Standard pillows are the smallest and most commonly used size, and can be used on any size bed.
  • Super Standard (20” x 28”): Super standard pillows are relatively rare. With a length halfway between the size of a standard and a queen pillow, they may be suitable for any mattress up to a queen.
  • Queen (20” x 30”): Queen size pillows are commonly available as an alternative to standard pillows. They give a little more playing room to people who move around during the night, or who like to sleep with their pillow folded or scrunched up.
  • King (20” x 36”): In addition to providing plenty of room while sleeping, king pillows are also one of the most comfortable sizes to lean against while sitting up in bed. Most online bedding companies offer king size pillows.
  • Body Pillow (54” x 20” OR 48” x 20”): Body pillows are long and skinny, meant to be cuddled against. These are most frequently used by side sleepers, who tuck them between the legs to keep the hips aligned and reduce strain on the lumbar area. Body pillows may also be an invaluable sleep tool for pregnant women, and can be a comfortable backrest when sitting.

Frequently Asked Questions About Memory Foam Pillows

How much do memory foam pillows cost?

Decent memory foam pillows usually start around $50 and can go up to $150 or more. Prices vary depending on size, foam density and quality, cooling features, and other features such as special shapes or high-quality covers. Compared with other types of pillows, memory foam pillows are similar to latex pillows, cheaper than buckwheat or down pillows, and more expensive than polyester or down alternative pillows.

How do I clean a memory foam pillow?

Some shredded memory foam pillows can be machine-washed, but most one-piece pillows are spot-clean only. It’s important to note that memory foam can get moldy if not allowed to dry properly, so go easy on the spot-cleaning and try not to get the pillow too wet. Many memory foam pillows have removable covers that can be machine-washed.

Where can I buy a memory foam pillow?

Memory foam pillows are commonly available online as well as in many brick-and-mortar stores.

How long do memory foam pillows last?

The average lifespan of a memory foam pillow is 2-3 years, which is longer than down alternative pillows but not as long as down, latex, or buckwheat pillows.

Even the best memory foam pillows eventually lose their integrity. One-piece pillows start to develop permanent indentations, and shredded memory foam pillows become lumpy. While higher-density memory foam tends to be more durable than lower-density memory foam, the downside is that higher-density memory foam also traps more heat.

Regular cleaning and fluffing can help prolong the longevity of a shredded memory foam pillow. Since one-piece pillows are prone to developing mildew when wet, the best you can do is keep them as clean as possible and wash the pillowcase regularly.

Are memory foam pillows adjustable?

Most shredded memory foam pillows offer users the opportunity to adjust the loft by adding or removing filler, and some one-piece pillows have removable inserts. Shredded memory foam pillows can also be scrunched into different shapes if the shape of the cover allows. Many pillows come with gussets meant to help keep the contents in place.

Do memory foam pillows off-gas?

Yes, memory foam is a synthetic material that will release some off-gassing odors. These are the result of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) being released into the air. While they are considered harmless, people who are sensitive to smell may find off-gassing odors bothersome, especially with the material so close to their face. If this sounds like you, try to look for a pillow that’s certified by a third-party organization for low emissions, and let the pillow air out in a well-ventilated space for a few days or even a few weeks before using it.